Share Tweet Share Email

Center for Economic Education works to help next generation ‘cash in’ with financial literacy

January 7, 2011

Photo of a 'money plant'If you had a time machine, you might go back and make smarter decisions to improve your financial future.

We’re not talking about picking winning lottery numbers or inventing Facebook before Mark Zuckerberg, but about everyday decisions that would safeguard you against recession — spending responsibly, understanding the stock market, avoiding credit traps and foreclosures.

Time machine technology is not available yet, but the NIU Center for Economic Education is developing new ways to teach economics so future generations can capitalize on better financial literacy.

The center provides professional development programs to help K-12 teachers guide their students through our complex global economy.

A recent relocation to the Center for P-20 Engagement provides an outreach framework to reach additional teachers and schools, expanding NIU’s services to include new credit courses and training workshops for both in-service and pre-service teachers.

Starting in 2011, the center will deliver workshops on the nationally popular Stock Market Game, which teaches students in fourth- through 12th grade how to manage stock portfolios.

Enthusiastic leaders are behind these innovations.

Stephen Karlson, Mary Beth Henning and Joanne Dempsey

Stephen Karlson, Mary Beth Henning and Joanne Dempsey

Stephen Karlson, associate professor of economics, and Mary Beth Henning, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, will serve as co-directors of the center. Kay Chapman of the P-20 center will act as coordinator for economic education activities.

Karlson’s experience includes directing the Office of Economic Education, designing and judging the state Economics Challenge and Personal Finance Challenge, presenting the Stock Market Game and Virtual Economics teacher workshops, and judging the annual Economics Concepts Poster Contest.

Henning has worked extensively in K-12 professional development. Since 2002, she has been the senior faculty member in elementary social studies education. Henning hopes educators will view NIU’s Center for Economic Education as a resource for new curriculum and professional development.

Joanne Dempsey, executive director of Econ Illinois commented about NIU’s center, one of eight Illinois centers, “With new leadership and the collaboration of multiple departments on campus, we believe the NIU center will be able to greatly increase its service to schools throughout our service area.”

A multi-disciplinary advisory committee brings a wealth of approaches to the center’s mission and programs:

  • Sally Arnett, Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences
  • J.D. Bowers, History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Mary Beth Henning, Teaching and Learning, College of Education
  • Stephen Karlson, Economics, CLAS
  • Bette Montgomery, Family and Consumer Sciences, CHHS
  • Randi Napientek, Office of Student Academic Success
  • Beth Towell, associate dean, College of Business
  • Kay Chapman, P-20

For more information, call (815) 753-4751.